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Hoteliers Turn To Mobile Apps

Hoteliers Turn To Mobile Apps

We just read the below article on Tnooz: The Year In Review – Travelers and Hoteliers Turn to Mobile Apps. We could not agree more.

From marketing to booking to offering concierge services, 2012 was all about mobile technology. Whether for smartphones or tablets, for guests or employees, apps ruled the hotel scene, and the trend shows no sign at all of slowing down. In fact, an estimated $4 billion will be spent on near field communication devices in the coming year alone, according to Tnooz.com.

The Trends

Last week, Travelport, which provides business services to the travel industry, reported that 87 percent of those aged 35 and under, and 80 percent of those 36-45, owned or planned to purchase a smartphone in the next six months. This increased access to the internet anytime, anywhere, is changing the expectations, demands and behaviors of leisure travelers. Sixty percent of these travelers consider a smartphone to be their ‘personal travel assistant or companion’ enabling interaction to take place at any time. Both groups prefer to access pre-travel information via mobile technology, rather than through traditional devices. This indicates the importance of travel itineraries that can be integrated with other apps, and formats that are easily read on mobile devices.

Earlier this week, we reported that Expedia is seeing 20 percent of its sites’ transactions coming from mobile devices. Right now Expedia has more than 130 mobile websites and its mobile apps are available in more than 200 countries. (Notably, Expedia executives reported growth in same-day hotel booking. In March 2012, 16.6 percent of U.S. Expedia users booked their hotel room within 24 hours of departure, on a mobile device.)

In August, a Starwood survey of business travelers found that smartphones are the most popular device among overnight guests (74 percent), followed by tablets (65 percent), music players (43 percent) and laptops (32 percent). Chinese respondents were the only group to bump laptops out of the top four, in favor of cameras (30 percent).

According to UK industry website MeetPie.com, Wi-Fi will become less important with the surge in the 4G telecommunications network, and tablet sales will soar. Speaking at the 8th UK National Association Congress, Ian McAuliffe, director of content and publishing agency, Think Publishing, said: “11 percent of the UK population has a tablet, but it is expected that by this Christmas Day that figure will rise to 30 percent.” Interestingly, 100 percent of the 100 associations Think questioned in a recent survey said that they had online content and email newsletters, but only 19 percent had digital editions and mobile presence.

The Apps

It would take all day to list all of the new and redesigned apps for hotel guests here—so many have made their debut that one can pick just about any major hotel chain or company and find a mobile app to fit it. Even independent properties are getting in on the action.

But what’s notable are the apps that the hotel employees themselves use to run their business. Hotel Service Pro and SalesPro let hoteliers keep track of all their maintenance and service orders, or of sales and account data, respectively.

Looking ahead, mobile payment systems seem poised to become increasingly common in many businesses, including hotels. It may well be that by the time 2014 rolls around, a smartphone with a good collection of apps (and plenty of memory, of course) may be a necessity for hotel guests and hoteliers alike.

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